Pastor Bans Church Leaders from Facebook

facebook banned at churchLast Friday, we asked the question, “Should you unfriend your spouse on Facebook?”  According to this article in the Pioneer Press, one pastor in New Jersey thinks you should not only unfriend your spouse, but delete your Facebook account entirely.

Rev. Cedric Miller of Living Word Christian Fellowship Church in Neptune, NJ has ordered 50 married church leaders to delete their Facebook accounts or resign from their leadership positions.

Why?

He says it’s because 20 couples among the 1,100 members of the church have run into marital trouble over the last six months after a spouse connected with an ex-flame over Facebook.

“I’ve been in extended counseling with couples with marital problems because of Facebook for the last year and a half,” he said. “What happens is someone from yesterday surfaces, it leads to conversations and there have been physical meet-ups. The temptation is just too great.”

When I first saw the headline, I’ll be honest, my inclination was to mock the pastor for overreacting.  But 20 families harmed through relationships initiated through Facebook – that’s a big deal.  At the very least, I think we need to acknowledge that Facebook can lead to inappropriate relationships.  That’s a very real danger.  Agree or disagree?

If you agree, then what’s the best way to protect against that danger?

One option, which Rev. Miller tried earlier was to ask all married couples to give each other the passwords to their Facebook accounts.

Do you have other suggestions?  Or do you agree with Rev Miller that all married people should avoid Facebook?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

22 Responses to “Pastor Bans Church Leaders from Facebook”

  1. I believe that the Pastor should use this as an opportunity to minister to couples, individuals, and church leaders on the use of Facebook. Pastors minister on the temptation that exist in Television, Video, etc. and need to include not only Facebook but Social Media in general. There is a real danger. I believe education and instruction is more powerful than condemnation in this situation.

  2. I'm on board with dboze here. 20 families messed up because of a relationship that started up again over facebook is a big deal, but at the same time, removing the catalyst for a problem doesn't mean the problem is solved. A person can have a problem with lust but just because you take away that person's internet access doesn't mean they aren't going to have a problem with lust.

  3. this is tough due to the fact that Facebook can, if properly utilized, be a great platform for connection and information. this isn't the most creative solution, and it should be part of a quiver of attempts to address the situation. the idea that Facebook is the playground for what is already in the heart of people is solid, but there are a whole host of paths that flow out from that. are we banning email? do the pastors have church-issued cell phones and if so what about text messaging? it is difficult to know where to draw the line, but I appreciate the idea that this pastor knows his context and I do not.

  4. William Powell Nov 19, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Agreed. This isn't a Facebook issue, it's a personal issue. So they're not on Facebook. There are hundreds of other social sites where this can happen. Addressing the problem of why they though exploring that relationship is more important of an issue than trying to "govern" people's private lives.

    In my opinion, this pastor is overstepping his bounds and calling by trying to dictate the lives of his staff. They are employed by him and there isn't an employer in the US that has the right to tell their employees they can't have a Facebook account.

    Cheers,
    William

  5. Totally agree. Removing the way sin manifests itself doesn't address the root problem any more than banning McDonald's will transform overweight staff members into svelte followers of Jesus. Marriages are under attack, no doubt. But let's focus on strengthening people's relationship with Christ so that when temptation comes — be it from Facebook or Jack Daniels — they're too close to him to break his (or their spouse's) heart.

  6. Kristen Marble Nov 19, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Facebook isn't the problem. These marriages were in trouble, and if it didn't happen through Facebook, it would have been through Twitter, MySpace or the local coffee shop. The pastor seems to be handling this in a very reactionary manner, rather than proactively. This might be better handled through teaching/leading with Bible studies, small groups or sermon series about handling social media in Biblical ways and/or keeping your marriage healthy.

  7. It's really easy to bash the Pastor here, and I just want to jump back in real quick and say that while this isn't going to solve the problem, I DO think it is a good first step in addressing it. Like others have mentioned, it's real easy for us to sit back and try and talk about what's going on, but that's the difference between getting reports from the front and living in the trenches. I'm just praying that the pastor who banned FB doesn't stop there, that he does go in and tries to root out the source of the problem.

  8. I'm with justapen. My first thought when hearing about this situation was, "I have a lot of respect for that pastor, making an unpopular decision when faced with a difficult reality." Next, I thought along the lines of most comments above: that facebook really isn't to blame here. But although ultimately it's our hearts that need to change so that we are more faithful to God and our spouse, sometimes we have to be radical in the lengths we go to avoid temptation.

  9. simplysensecents Nov 21, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I would not ban them from the leadership position or facebook! If this type of action occurs then there was a problem to begin with. I would counsel the whole church on Social Media use, and how it can be used to assist in bringing people to Christ. I have a facebook page and a business page, everyday I post bible scriptures and I am a member of groups that edify other Christians. So, I would say that it should be a soul searching from within the individuals as to this decision.

  10. As a pastor I applaud Rev. Miller. I too have seen the distraction and the absolute wasting of valuable ministry time because of facebook. It is just another tool of the devil to infiltrate the body of Christ and he is doing a good job. Think about how much of a distraction this is from family, and jobs. I had a staff member that spent so much time on facebook that he and his wife hardly ever spoke and they knew more about other people in the church than they did about themselves. Be careful. Your adversary the devil seeketh whom he may devour.

    • @ David Jones

      "…but the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, FAITHFULNESS, gentleness, and SELF-CONTROL."
      Gal. 5:22-23

      David what would you call your commenting on this blog? Would that not also meet your definition of " wasting of valuable ministry time"? Not sure, but I think there might be a slight double-standard. Not making an accusation, but just pointing out that I can remember people saying that the internet was also "just another tool of the devil to infiltrate the body of Christ". And before that it was computers. So, I don't buy this argument. Train people to be productive and they will be. Train them to make good, Christ-centered, choices and, by-and-large, they will. Sin is always an issue, but continuous proclamation of the Gospel and the Lordship of Christ is our best tool against the wiles of the devil. not legalistic bans on the internet. People will always develop new ways to sin.

  11. "20 couples among the 1,100 members of the church have run into marital trouble over the last six months after a spouse connected with an ex-flame over Facebook." I'm just wondering how many couples had marital trouble in the last 6 months not related to Facebook? Would it be naive to assume a number greater than zero… and maybe even greater than 20?
    At least I hope Rev Miller is consistent and ban other forms of communication as well. I would of course suggest that none of the families may have telephones… surely a fair portion of people has marital problems in the past because of such evils such as phone sex? or phoning a "friend"…
    Facebook (or whatever technology we choose) is just the conduit, not the problem. Does it make it easier? Sure! but it also makes it easier to do good…

  12. Which causes us to wonder, surely the reverend knew the risks of possibly being found out, especially in lieu of his very public stance against Facebook and a barrage of eager journalist sleuths who were probably listening with one ear intrigue and the other very careful scrutiny. In the end has chosen to resign, but the question remains, how out of touch is the church with human inclinations, despite best intentions and the moral guidance it seeks to affect? Who will light a candle for the Reverend now?

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